BC research funders create first-time partnership for nine new COVID-19 projects

GENOME BC, the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research, and the BCCDC Foundation for Public Health have partnered for the first time to fund rapid response research initiatives that will have a direct impact – in a matter of months – on people in British Columbia during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to an announcement on Thursday.

Valued at approximately $1.3 million, a total of nine new projects have been selected for funding, covering a range of priority research areas, including:

  • vaccine breakthrough infections;
  • vaccine effectiveness in the context of variants of concern and immune response;
  • viral transmission;
  • equitable distribution of vaccines;
  • vaccine acceptance and attitudes towards vaccines; and,
  • vaccine literacy and hesitancy among people who are pregnant or breastfeeding, people who are incarcerated, people who work in long-term care homes and a variety of multicultural communities in the Lower Mainland.

The projects are being led by researchers at the BC Centre for Disease Control, BC Children’s Hospital Institute, Simon Fraser University, University of British Columbia (UBC), UBC Okanagan, and University of Victoria.

The supported projects represent a mix of laboratory-based and social dynamics studies, offering critical insights to urgent issues, while supporting near-term targeted public health responses, and helping to ensure access to and confidence in vaccination programs for everyone in BC.

Strategic partners on this initiative also include the BC Academic Health Science Network (BC AHSN) and Population Data BC. BC AHSN, through the BC SUPPORT Unit, has partnered on the call by providing support to public engagement reviewers to participate in the review process. In addition, the Unit will provide consultation, training and support to those who are interested in engaging patients and families, public and/or community members as partners on their research teams. Population Data BC is offering guidance and advice to the funded researchers on data access and linkage, and continuing in its efforts to make the data access process as simple and straightforward as possible for the research community.